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Festival Speakers

Check back for updates as we add more speakers to our line up!
Idris Stover
Idris Stover
Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Culture
Shake Shack

What are you responsible for at your company?
Strategic ledership and execution for programs that support diversity, equity, and inclusion; team member engagement and an overall positive culture at Shake Shack.

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
High quality food at a great value, delivered with warm hospitality punctuated by uplifiting expereinces. Shake Shack is a brand favorite!

What excites you about the future of this industry?
Our industry is so large and diverse! We have a lot of power, that when harnessed, could make a real impact on this world.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
I love Asian cuisine -- Japanese, Thai, Korean -- you name it, I love it!

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I dabble in the lost art of sewing, and during the height of the pandemic, I used my sewing skills to make masks for family and friends.

Scott Boatwright
Scott Boatwright
Chief Restaurant Officer
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Ira Gleser
Ira Gleser
Director/Industry Exec, US Retail & Consumer Goods
Microsoft

Ira is an accomplished marketing, communications, and business development professional with a proven track record of leveraging data, analysis and insights to create successful integrated marketing programs and campaigns, brand experiences, and events across all media channels that engage target audiences in person, in print and online, grow businesses, and build brand loyalty.

With over twenty years of restaurant and retail industry experience as a supplier partner and consultant, Ira has successfully collaborated with, and delivered value as a trusted business partner to, a number of leading brands in these industries. He has built a reputation for developing robust relationships with clients and customers, strategic partners, agency and media firms, and key business stakeholders.

In his current role as Director, Industry Executive at Microsoft, Ira is leveraging his industry experience along with Microsoft’s expertise to bring restaurant operators insights, ideas and innovative solutions that will help drive growth through digitally transforming their businesses.

A long-time resident of Atlanta, Ira received his BBA in Economics at the University of Georgia and his MBA in Marketing at George Washington University.

Matthew de Gruyter
Matthew de Gruyter
CEO & Founder
Next Level Burger
John Peyton
John Peyton
CEO
Dine Brands
Bettina Stern
Bettina Stern
Principal & Co-Founder
Chaia

What are you responsible for at your company?
Co-CEO role - but predominately development, strategy, branding, marketing, partnerships

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Chaia is an unconventional taco shop on a mission to get people to eat more vegetables, for both their health and the health of the environment. We believe that everything’s better in a taco, and that making the world a better place starts with the food we eat.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
Our dream has always been change-making at scale, and we’re ready to take Chaia to its full potential. We look forward to bringing ‘farm to taco’ to neighborhoods and families across the country

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Summer food: a ripe tomato sandwich for lunch and fresh-caught, grilled bluefish for supper

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I'm learning to surf!

Michael Hearn
Michael Hearn
Business Development Manager
Qwick

Michael Hearn has worked in the San Francisco service industry since 1999 - in both Front of House and restaurant technology roles. He currently manages the San Francisco Bay Area market for Qwick, an on-demand staffing platform focused exclusively on F&B.

Kelly Dykhuizen
Kelly Dykhuizen
Sr. Director Accounts
Datassential

What are you responsible for at your company?
Customer Success

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
A market research firm focused on the world of foodservice

What excites you about the future of this industry?
The fact that consumers are hungry for innovation and demanding it from restaurants!

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Surf and turf at Galley Beach Restaurant in Nantucket

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I love to travel and Spain is my favorite place in the world to visit

Jeffrey Frederick
Jeffrey Frederick
Co-Founder & Partner
Ascend Prime Steak & Sushi
Sanjiv Razdan
Sanjiv Razdan
President Americas & India
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

What are you responsible for at your company?
North and South America business

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
My favorite place to get the best tasting coffees and teas from around the world.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
We meet the ever increasing human need to refuel, recharge and reconnect. We are getting more personalized, more convenient, more sustainable and hyper competitive, all of which is incredibly challenging and so very exciting!

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Grabbing local street food is a passion, most recently in Mexico City!

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I am an amateur actor and dabble in playing hand percussion instruments.

Troy Guard
Troy Guard
Owner/Executive Chef
TAG Restaurant Group
Bonin Bough
Bonin Bough
Marketing Guru, Investor, Author
Jim Rinsem
Jim Rinsem
National Vice President (GSC) Head Of Emerging Concepts Business Development
Sysco
Sam Oches
Sam Oches
Editor-in-Chief
Nation’s Restaurant News

What excites you about the future of this industry?
The creativity in this industry is endless, and customers are increasingly seeking a fun and adventurous experience. I see the future getting more and more creative, with menu items and experiences more and more tailored to each diner's unique wants and needs.

What is your all-time favorite meal?
Can't beat pizza

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I was once a drummer in a banana-themed punk rock band

Robin Robison
Robin Robison
Chief Operating Officer
Modern Restaurant Concepts

What are you responsible for at your company?
Operations, training, restaurant services, technology

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Fast casual brands focused on better-for-you food that is delicious!

What excites you about the future of this industry?
The ability to innovate and change to meet consumer demand while providing great opportunities for people to grow in the restaurant industry.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Crab Ramen with truffle butter broth

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I used to drive a school bus!

Mark Brandau
Mark Brandau
Associate Director Research & Insight
Datassential
Jae Kim
Jae Kim
Founder
Chi’Lantro BBQ
Molly Browne
Molly Browne
Education Director
Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Molly Browne is the Education Director for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. Molly is a Certified Cheese Professional and Certified Cheese Sensory Evaluator through the American Cheese Society, and serves on the ACS Certification Committee. A true-born native of the State of Cheese, she started her career as the manager and lead cheesemonger for a small specialty shop in Boulder, CO. In the intervening decade Molly has worked in a multitude of roles for cheese companies large and small. She lives in Milwaukee, WI.

Leslie Leaf
Leslie Leaf
Chief Customer Officer
Revel Systems

As Revel Systems’ Chief Customer Office, Leslie Leaf oversees all aspects of the post-sale customer journey including support and account management. Leveraging her 20+ years of support-industry experience at Oracle, T-Mobile, and PwC, Leslie has grown and matured one of the best international teams in the business. Energetic and analytically minded with a background in IT, Leslie focuses on people, process, and technology improvements to minimize churn, improve customer satisfaction, and decrease support costs.

Chef Ben Lee
Chef Ben Lee
Director of Culinary Services
Mars Foodservice
James O’Reilly
James O’Reilly
CEO
Smokey Bones
Joanna Fantozzi
Joanna Fantozzi
Senior Editor
Nation’s Restaurant News

What excites you about the future of this industry?
I'm excited about the definition of restaurant expanding to mean so much more: digital presence, virtual restaurants, CPG, and even vending machines. Foodservice is entering an exciting era.

What is your all-time favorite meal?
My mom's Sunday dinner (pasta and meatballs with 'gravy')

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I got married twice because of the pandemic, with one small wedding and one large party, so technically I have two wedding anniversaries!

Lindsay Radkoski
Lindsay Radkoski
Vice President of National Marketing
Wendy’s

What are you responsible for at your company?
I lead the team that creates and stewards our marketing strategy and develops our annual brand plans and national marketing calendar. We spearhead a number of cross-functional teams, partner with R&D on product development, collaborate with our agencies on creative and communication development and spend a lot of time with our franchise leadership groups collaborating on what’s best for the Wendy’s consumer and system.

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Beloved for our iconic menu items like the Frosty, hot and crispy fries and fresh never frozen hamburgers, while also famous for serving award-winning sass and internet-breaking activations – that’s Wendy’s.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
The pandemic drastically shifted the foodservice industry and pushed brands and leaders to innovate quickly. At Wendy’s, that spirit of innovation – driven by customer expectations and the high standards we have for ourselves – continues in 2022 by our goal of becoming the world’s most thriving and beloved restaurant brand. Change is constant and the ability to push through that to constantly create a better future is fun and addictive!

Of course, all of this could not be possible without the amazing Wendy’s family. Whether it’s at Wendy’s headquarters or when I’m in our restaurants, I am inspired every day by the passion my colleagues, franchisees, operators and crew members share for achieving this goal.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
My husband and I both love to cook and my favorite meals are those that we cook together for groups of families and friends. We rotate through Italian, Asian and Mexican recipes that are pretty delicious!

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I recently went backpacking with my family here in Colorado and on our third day made Pad Thai over a campstove.

Jamie Ferreyros
Jaime Ferreyros
VP Sales
Presto

Jaime is a seasoned sales leader responsible for revenue growth across our brand and franchisee business segments. He has over a decade of restaurant industry experience focused on technology sales across new markets and verticals, with prior stints at Toast and Revel. He attended the University of Miami.

Clare Wilson
Clare Wilson
Director of Culinary & R&D
Jason’s Deli

What are you responsible for at your company?
New menu items, innovation, quality improvement, equipment testing, packaging testing.

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Family friendly, fairly priced, high quality food, and free ice cream. We have something for everyone.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
As difficult as COVID was, I think it made the industry streamline ingredients, carryout menu engineering, and find ways to work smarter, and everyone is better off for it. We're going to be a lot more efficient and effective for our customers.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
My husband and I had just hiked from Vernazza to Monterosso in the Cinque Terre in Italy. When we got to Monterosso, we had lunch at this little spot in an alley with the very best gnocchi pesto Genovese I've ever had. We followed it up with house-made cannoli and limoncello, and it was so memorable.

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I have 34 stamps on my passport! I love to travel.

Elliot Schiffer
Elliot Schiffer
CEO
Mici Handcrafted Italian
Ron Ruggless
Ron Ruggless
Senior Editor
Nation’s Restaurant News

What excites you about the future of this industry?
Hospitality will remain the core, no matter the changes

What is your all-time favorite meal?
Osteria Francescana - Modena, Italy

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I can tap dance.

Erin Hicks
Erin Hicks
Chief Operating Officer
Teriyaki Madness
Leigh Anne Zinsmeister
Leigh Anne Zinsmeister
Group Managing Editor
Nation’s Restaurant News

What excites you about the future of this industry?
All of the emerging brands that are finding ways to thrive in such a weird environment.

What is your all-time favorite meal?
I'm a breakfast girl: A Belgian waffle and crispy bacon with a mimosa

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I once won a Grey's Anatomy trivia contest and ended up using a full day of PTO on a random Tuesday to collect my prize: Meeting one of the stars.

Hal Lawlor
Hal Lawlor
Chief Operating Officer
Smokey Bones
Christi Ravneberg
Christi Ravneberg
Senior Managing Editor
Nation’s Restaurant News
Otto Othman
Otto Othman
Co-Founder & CEO
PINCHO

What are you responsible for at your company?
Lead our above store team and brand every day.

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
PINCHO is an elevated Latin street food concept centered around burgers + kebabs. Foods you know, with flavors you've never experienced before.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
Food will always be something that brings people together. No matter what new technology is launched, we will always sit down and break bread together. Always focus on hospitality and you will always win.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Sushi Nigiri at Hillstone

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I got suspended for 9 days of school in 9th grade for hacking into the school computer network.

Matt Frazier
Matt Frazier
Regional Sales Manager
Peter Pan Seafood

Matt Frazier has over 8 years of Seafood Sales experience along with 10 years of commercial fishing experience. His passion revolves around fishing, family, the outdoors and connecting with new people. Between Foodservice and Retail Sales, Matt has managed accounts around the World and loves to develop new areas that are new to Seafood.

David Boennighausen
David Boennighausen
CEO
Noodles & Company
Dontre’al Haigler
Dontre’al Haigler
Product Development
Denny’s
Damola Adamolekun
Damola Adamolekun
CEO, Board of Directors
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc.

What are you responsible for at your company?
As the Chief Executive Officer of P.F. Chang's, I am focused on exceeding the expectations of millions of guests and 20,000 staff members in over 300 locations internationally. Right now, that means completing our restaurant ambiance focused remodels, driving our digital off-premises business, supporting our global franchise partners, and preparing for more new restaurant openings including P.F. Chang’s full-service Bistro, P.F. Chang’s Flagship, and P.F. Chang’s To Go.

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
The preeminent Asian restaurant perfect for casual and celebratory dining with menu favorites people love (especially the iconic Chicken Lettuce Wraps) and exciting dishes to explore in an upscale, accessible environment.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
I am excited about the potential for growth, and the opportunity to interface and serve customers differently. By embracing new technologies, platforms and data, we have the opportunity to meet customers where they are and build loyal communities of fans across channels. For P.F. Chang’s specifically, 2019-2021 was about growing our off-premise dining strategy by adding new, digital channels, including a mobile app and expansion of in-house and third-party delivery services. This year is about making those channels work together to create a streamlined, omnichannel approach, allowing guests to interact with P.F. Chang’s when, where and how they want. We will continue to build on this approach in the future, evolving to meet the needs of our customers, while finding new, innovative ways to engage them.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Other than our restaurants my all-time favorite meal would be a home cooked Nigerian dinner with some of my favorite dishes like Jollof Rice and Pepper Soup.

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I was born in Nigeria and am fortunate to have called many places home – Nigeria, Amsterdam, Zimbabwe, Illinois, Maryland, Providence, San Francisco, New York and now Arizona. I am a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Business School. At Brown, I was a member of the Ivy League champion football team.

Holly Petre
Holly Petre
Digital Editor
Nation’s Restaurant News
Luis Lara
Luis Lara
SVP of Business Development
Consolidated Concepts

Luis Lara is the Senior Vice President of Business Development for Consolidated Concepts. Luis started working in the restaurant industry as a cashier, fry cook, and server. Luis has also worked with restaurants as a financial analyst for a large financial institution in Chicago and has helped build customer databases and loyalty programs for restaurants. Today, Luis leads all new business development efforts and initiatives at Consolidated Concepts. His team works closely with emerging, regional, and national restaurants, virtual and ghost kitchen operators, channel sales partners, supply chain consultants, private equity and venture capital firms.

Frank Bonanno
Frank Bonanno
Founder
Bonanno Concepts

What are you responsible for at your company?
Venue & menu ideation, design, identity & implementation. Frank is in charge of growth and long term strategy, with on-the-ground focus in the kitchens; I (Jacqueline) am more of a creative problem solver with daily focus on the front of house.

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
The Bonanno Concepts create food memories and wreak delicious happiness. We're part of the very fabric of Denver.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
There is so much in our business to be excited about. Collectively, societally, we've rediscovered the joy of the walkable neighborhood, which, means a real opportunity to embrace a sense of interactive space and community. Also, because we hire toward that intersection, there's this palpable moment to seize where the people working with us have chosen this path. They had two years to reflect on where and how they wanted to earn a living, and they chose us! How great is that?

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Frank says Le Cep, in Fleurie, deep into truffles and frog legs with Mel Masters. I say Pete's Kitchen here in Denver, 1 am, kissing my some-day husband just before diving into their weirdly pink and truly amazing breakfast burrito.

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
We had to go to cheese court together and it was Big and Dramatic and our attorney had to come at the last minute to keep us out of jail.

Carron Harris
Carron Harris
Sr. Director of Culinary
Papa Murphy’s
Kelley Fechner
Kelley Fechner
VP Customer Experience
Datassential
Zach Goldstein
Zach Goldstein
CEO & Founder
Thanx

Zach Goldstein is the CEO and Founder of Thanx. Founded in 2011, Thanx is a leading guest engagement and retention platform helping restaurants and retailers maximize customer lifetime value. Prior to earning his MBA from Stanford, Goldstein honed his experience in the loyalty space at Bain & Company, helping companies perfect their retention and reward strategies as early as 2005. Goldstein was recognized by NRN on it's 2020 Restaurant Power List and has earned a reputation as a thought leader in the restaurant-tech space through his Food Fighters podcast and authorship including the widely-revered Four Horsemen of the Restaurant Apocalypse.

Jeff Carcara
Jeff Carcara
CEO
Sixty Vines

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
A personal wine country experience complete with tasting paired meal, great conversation, pinkies down atmosphere.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
Evolving to a more flexible career and shedding past stereotypes.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
I’m allergic to gluten so any meal that can satiate me like pasta, I am in!

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
When I’m not at Sixty Vines I’m behind my boat wake-surfing with my family.

Tim Scroger
Tim Scroger
Sr Director Restaurant
Entegra
Nick Marsh
Nick Marsh
CEO
Founder’s Table

What are you responsible for at your company?
CEO

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Chopt Creative Salad Company, Dos Toros Tacqueria, Field Trip, Sweet Chick are cravable, forward looking, better for you, food brands led by passionate founders

What excites you about the future of this industry?
The never ending creativity

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
It's all about the people you share it with and the view.

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I love to be anywhere in the great outdoors.

Jonah Goldman
Jonah Goldman
Co-Founder & Director of Strategic Marketing
PLNT Burger

What are you responsible for at your company?
Marketing and promotions, strategic growth/development, planning/management, new store openings

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Delicious, Delightful, Empowering

What excites you about the future of this industry?
Rebuilding a more just and resilient food system through planet friendly fast food for the next generation.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Injera

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I spent a year as a "Freegan" eating only rescued food

Kieran Donahue
Kieran Donahue
Chief Marketing Officer
IHOP
Betsy Hamm
Betsy Hamm
CEO
Duck Donuts

What are you responsible for at your company?
Ensuring the Duck Donuts brand continues to grow and succeed. This includes providing the team, tools and resources so that our franchise partners are able to deliver an superior product with exceptional customer service as we continue to fulfil our mission of serving a warm, edible ring of happiness around the globe!

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Warm, delicious donuts that are made to order and served fresh in a friendly, inviting atmosphere.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
The ability for the industry to adapt and evolve over the last few years is amazing. Continuing to meet customer demands utilizing technology is exciting!

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Authentic Mexican

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
Prior to Duck Donuts, I spent 15+ years in the tourism/hospitality industry. Traveling and food are two of my favorite things!

Ashley Morris
Ashley Morris
CEO
Capriotti’s & Wing Zone

What are you responsible for at your company?
As CEO of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop and Wing Zone, I am responsible for moving the greatest tasting, highest quality sub sandwich company on Earth, along with the fastest, and most flavorful wing chain to the forefront of the restaurant industry. I oversee an extraordinary team of seasoned professionals who work daily advancing the operations of the brands and delivering on the challenges of the Strategic Plan, the Mission, and the Vision.

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Capriotti’s- Highest Quality, best tasting sub shop chain on the planet!

Wing Zone- By far the fastest and most flavorful wings and tenders in the industry.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
The restaurant industry is in a period of major disruption on many fronts. This presents the industry with the task of constantly thinking differently than ever before. That is where our company thrives! We love to think outside the box and participate in new trends that are applicable to our industry. We are also super excited about the forthcoming automation that is starting to present in our industry.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
I love Sushi, particularly rolls made with crispy fried rice!

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I have super long arms for my height which makes me a deceiving rebounder and blocker in basketball.

Sara Dowdy
Sara Dowdy
Director, Menu Development
Zaxby’s Franchising
Stratis Morfogen
Stratis Morfogen
Founder
Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, Brooklyn Chop House
Paul Macaluso
Paul Macaluso
CEO
Another Broken Egg
Mike Rypka
Mike Rypka
Founder & CEO
Torchy’s Tacos

What are you responsible for at your company?
Mike is responsible for managing the company's overall operations.

In less than 30 words, how would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
By living the “Damn Good” mantra, Torchy’s Tacos elevates the traditional taco with unique flavor combinations from around the world, all made from scratch.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
At Torchy’s, we’re excited to see technology and automation transform the food industry. We’re already implementing certain technology solutions such as our app and loyalty program which are designed to increase efficiency, food quality and customer satisfaction. We expect technology will continue to be utilized in new ways as folks look for faster and more convenient ways to get their food fix.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Omakase at Uchi or Uchiko

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
Torchy’s started out as a food trailer on South First Street in Austin, Texas – back before food trucks were the trend they are today. In those early days, I used to hop on my Vespa and give away chips & salsa around town just to get the word out and encourage people to visit us. It looks like it worked out, because 16 years later we have grown to over 100 locations across 13 states!

Brian Lannan
Brian Lannan
VP of Retail Experience
TTEC Digital

Brian Lannan is VP, Retail Experience for TTEC Digital. He joined the company in 2021 after nearly 15 years at Target. He has deep experience developing and leading strategy, insights, and CX capabilities. In his last role at Target, he led the Guest Experience team, where he was responsible for experience strategy and insights, guest-centric culture development, voice of guest, and brand and reputation insights. In his time at Target he worked directly on a wide range of businesses across merchandising, marketing, corporate responsibility, stores, contact center, and digital. He’s a graduate of Harvard Business School and of Indiana University.

Brian Campbell
Brian Campbell
VP of Culinary & Beverage
BigShots Golf
Sahil Rahman
Sahil Rahman
Co-Founder
RASA
Bret Thorn
Bret Thorn
Senior Editor, Food & Beverage
Nation’s Restaurant News

What excites you about the future of this industry?
Operators are going to incorporate an expanding variety of cuisines and flavor combinations in their food & beverage offerings.

What is your all-time favorite meal?
Honey roasted duck with young ginger at a restaurant near the Bangkok government headquarters.

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I despise raw tomatoes.

Matt Stanton
Matt Stanton
Partner & Chief Growth Officer
Mici Italian

Matt Stanton has been Partner and Chief Growth Officer at Mici Italian since 2021. He leads the company’s corporate and franchise growth throughout the U.S., focusing on long-term success by selecting exceptional and motivated franchisees, while securing optimized real estate. Prior to Mici, Matt led the growth efforts for WellBiz Brands, Inc. and their 800+ unit portfolio of brands which include: Drybar, Elements Massage, Amazing Lash, and Fitness Together. Matt also led the growth efforts for Smashburger, where he played a vital role in building the chain from <100 units in 2011 to over 350 units by 2016 in 36 states and eight countries. Prior to these roles, he was a Consultant with Bain & Company focused on growth strategy across a variety of industries. Matt earned his B.A. in Chemistry from Bowdoin College, his M.A. in Analytical Chemistry from The University of Texas at Austin, and his MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Matt lives in Sedalia, CO with his wife Eri and two teenage daughters, Mari and Misa. When not growing brands, you can find Matt training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or enjoying Colorado’s famous hiking and biking trails.

Jessica Tomlinson
Jessica Tomlinson
Director of Culinary
Ford’s Garage USA
Lucas Bradbury
Lucas Bradbury
CEO & Founder
Project Pollo
Daniel Camp
Daniel Camp
Sr. Director of Culinary, F&B
On The Border
Imran Sheikh
Imran Sheikh
Co-Founder and CEO
Milkshake Concepts

What are you responsible for at your company?
Vision shaping, long term strategy, concept creation, business development, capital.

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
We have multiple brands that offer we different offerings. The common thread that is each truly delivers 'an experience' - which is why we call ourselves an 'experiential' hospitality group.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
While there has certainly been an explosion in digital dining and delivery, we still believe people will crave in-store experiences. The challenge to stay relevant and on the cusp of all things F&B is extremely exciting

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Steak Frites from Le Relais De Venise (L'Entrecote)

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I've never properly cooked a meal in my life!

Michelle Kear
Michelle Kear
R&D Chef
Nextbite

What are you responsible for at your company?
I am responsible for researching and developing delicious profitable brands that provide ancillary income to food establishments with minimal lift to their existing operations.

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Nextbite matches best-in-class delivery focused brands with under-utilized kitchens. With chef-designed recipes, Nextbite delivers craveable menus for consumers.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
I am excited to see how virtual restaurant brands will effect the foodservice labor force by generating ancillary income in under-utilized kitchens to support being fully staffed.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
15 course tasting menu at Lazy Bear in San Fransisco with my best friend.

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I sky dived in Queenstown, NZ from 15,000ft.

Meredith Cagigal
Meredith Cagigal
VP Foodservice Channel Strategy & Execution
The Coca-Cola Company

What are you responsible for at your company?
Develop Strategy, Selling Tools, and Execution guidelines for the foodservice segment of Coca-Cola's business across the US and Canada

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Restaurant customers describe Coca-Cola and our brands as pairs great with food, tastes great, completes a meal, delights guests, and drives restaurant profitability.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
I am most excited about the unlimited possibilities within the foodservice industry today. Consumers are flocking back and craving new news on menus and I know innovation will come.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Barbacoa Steak Fajitas with an iced cold Diet Coke

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I am an exotic pet owner and volunteer on the Board of Zoo Atlanta to support animal conservation.

Michael McHenry
Michael McHenry
Founder
The McHenry Group

What you’ll learn:

  • How to create experiential concepts that resonate with consumers
  • How to build teams with growth in mind
  • Empowering your employees to personalize and customize the guest experience
Lon Symensma
Lon Symensma
Owner/Executive Chef
ChoLon Restaurant Concepts
David Spirito
David Spirito
Sr Director of Culinary & Food Services
Avocados from Mexico
Khanh Nguyen
Khanh Nguyen
Chief Executive Officer
Zalat Pizza

What are you responsible for at your company?
CEO & Founder: Vision, Innovation and Culture

How would your customers describe your restaurant brand?
Hand made NYC-style pizza cooked in a traditional deck ovens with the best ingredients, fun & non-traditional flavors, open super duper late.

What excites you about the future of this industry?
The growing importance of technology and how it should lead to better quality.

Other than your own restaurants, what is your all-time favorite meal?
Sushi

Give us a fun fact about yourself!
Came to the US on a ship after the fall of Vietnam.

Briana Valdez
Briana Valdez
Founder & CEO
HomeState
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
VP of Culinary
Dividend Restaurant Group
Richard Young
Richard Young
Director
Frontier Energy Food Service Technology Center

Richard is the Director of Outreach at the Frontier Energy Food Service Technology Center (FSTC), an unbiased, commercial foodservice, research-and-training facility. Richard focuses his efforts on translating Frontier Energy’s 35 years of food service research into practical information. He has created and delivered over 1000 presentations and classes during the last 30 years and authored numerous research reports and articles in magazines, newsletters, and on the web. He is also the creator and author of the online Foodservice Energy Efficiency Expert (Fe3) training and certification program (www.fethree.com).

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